Make Grading Fun Again: Grading Green Fashion
Whereas grading can often seem an arduous task, I was actually excited to grade this assignment this new assignment for sustainable fashion. This semester I, along with co-instructor Max Boykoff and TA Patrick Chandler, created a new pedagogical tool for exploring sustainable fashion for our Spring of 2021 upper-division under-graduate Creative Climate Communication course. For this assignment students were asked to visually communicate within their circle of influence how sustainable fashion can positively influence the environment and be aspirational. Each student created a sustainably sourced outfit (thrifted, hand-me-down, recycled, dumpster dived, clothing swapped, sewn from repurposed cloth…) as an expression of their personal style. They created a photo or video of themselves modeling this outfit while wearing a full-body Lycra green suit underneath. They were challenged with adding a pro-environmental personal message to this photo or video and post it on some form of social media or communication platform. There were asked to reach at least ten people within their circle of influence and document any responses or feedback received. Finally, they were asked to write an overall personal reflection on this once this example of Green Fashion was created, documented, disseminated, and responded to. This assignment addresses many key issues surrounding the science and art of what makes for effective climate communication.
- Making pro-environmental fashion behaviors aspirational by showing them as influencing the norm for group behavior (Markowitz, 2014, page 71-2).
- Students as trusted messengers of climate within their circles of influence (https://www.bu.edu/ise/2019/04/16/trusted-messenger/)
- The Power of Ten as a framework for suitably scaling sustainability and climate action in response to the rapid need for transformation of systems, policies, and behaviors (https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab9ed0/pdf)
- Sustainable fashion as essential for reversing global warming given the fact that “if the garment business were a nation, it would be the fourth largest climate polluter on Earth” (2018).
- Avoidance of emotional numbing by audiences through immediate, local solutions available to individuals and communities (Markowitz, 2014, page 32)
- Visual communication through metaphor, such as Green Fashion, which helps translate abstract concepts into familiar terms
This assignment in a class of 44 students was able to reach over 3000 people with a vibrant, personal message inspiring Green Fashion and sustainable fashion behavior. Given the incredibly significant environmental impact of the fashion industry, it is essential for our survivability to radically reimagine our relationship with clothing. Our students are perfectly suited to this charge as powerful agents for change. This non-disposable assignment acknowledged that our students creative work in our courses can be towards authentic positive impact. It was a real treat to see the fun they had doing this assignment, to get a glimpse of their personal style, and to see how their circle of community received and responded to their messages. Their written reflections on the process completed the learning goals for the assignment by guiding them in critically engaging with the actions and outcomes of the assignment and their personal experiences throughout. And, it was a joy to assess their photos and written reflections, which was rejuvenating for us as educators.
Markowitz, Ezra, et al. (2014). Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Change Communication. Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, Columbia University, p. 32.
Siegle, Lucy (2018) ‘Ten ways to make fashion greener’ The Guardian June 24.